Waiting for Morning by Alexandra White

Topic: Exhaustion

Julia rocked in the chair in the low, pale light of the morning, Lily’s body heavy and sticky against her. Her breasts ached under the relentless pull of the baby’s mouth. Her eyes burned red with fatigue. How could one small person need so much from her? Even when she held Lily all night, barely even pausing to take a sip of water, Lily clung to her, as if it was never close enough.

As a toddler, Lily would do the same, edging the kitchen chair closer and closer to Julia until their chairs scraped together. “Honey,” Julia would say, drinking more of the hot black coffee, trying to clear the bitterness in her throat. You are close to me—you couldn’t be closer.”

Sometimes it seemed that Lily wanted to tunnel back inside of Julia, into that dark warm pool. Sometimes, Julia wanted that too. Back into the quiet, where there was no crying, no clawing with little nails as sharp as talons. No angry hot mouth clamping and sucking until there was no creamy drop left, nothing left to feed her but a loose, bruised sac.

The sky grew darker, as if night were returning instead of ending. She needed the morning, and the hope that came with it. She always felt safer in the sunlight, her dark thoughts receding almost completely until the evening came.

She rocked and thought about how she would do it. Pills would be the easiest, but how many? She could try the exhaust from the car, but their old garage had so many leaks that the fresh air would muddle that plan. Sometimes when she was crazy from looking at the four walls of her house, she would walk with the baby on her chest, thinking about the slow slide into the icy river. It would be like sleeping—a kind of peace.

10 Responses to “Waiting for Morning by Alexandra White”
  1. TJ Alexian says:

    Wow! And yet, I can’t admit that the thought hasn’t crossed my mind, every now and then…it’s tough having to be “on” all the time.

    • Thanks so much, TJ. You are right, the unrelentingness of parenthood can be quite humbling and, of course, exhausting. I wrote this relfecting on a time when my daughter was up every hour to nurse at night and I still had to produce a full day’s work. I thought about exploring what would happen if I took the dark feelings of exhaustion further – what would happen in the charatcer’s mind, if she almost went too far.

  2. London Davis says:

    You’ve done such a beautiful job of conveying the meaning of “exhaustion”. Keep up the good work, and I look forward to reading more from you.

  3. Jared Karol says:

    Alexandra, This is a very powerful piece. I think we all–whether we’ll admit it or not–have had feelings like this. Where the overwhelm just seems like it’s too too much. I’m glad you’re writing with us. Write On! -Jared

    • Jared – Thanks very much for your encouragement! Yes, I think one of the things we could do to help new parents is to let them know that parenting IS hard, IS exhausting, and that it is easy to become overwhelmed with the pure exhaustion of taking care of little ones, both physically and mentally. Knowing to expect this, can in its own strange way, be a comfort. It’s the same way I feel about turbulence on a plane–if it comes unexpectedly, I am quite nervous, but if the captain tells me to anticipate it, I am a lot calmer. -A

  4. Mitchell says:

    This is painted so beautifully. We can all relate to this moment in at least abstraction, but the way you brought it into being is very impressive. It’s a privilege to have you writing with us.

    • talleygilly says:

      Mitchell – Thank you so very much for your kind words! In turn, I feel privileged to be invited to write on the site with you–what a great discovery. As I read over the submissions, I keep thinking, “Wow, so much talent here!” You and Jared have sure started something great. -Alexandra

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